Did you read this week’s “Spinal Column” in The Times magazine? Melanie Reid broke her neck and back falling from a horse in April 2010. In her weekly column she records her long, painful and often frustrating rehabilitation. This week she checked into a hotel and ran into difficulties when the “accessible” hotel accommodation proved to be anything but.
This morning Melanie’s article prompted the following Twitter conversation between us (@thfutureperfect) and Tourism for All (@tourismforalluk) which I think sums up quite neatly the problems in this area.
Until I read this article I would have assumed like Melanie that: “ When you go to stay in a Hilton hotel, booked into a special room for disabled people, you kind of assume it will your meet your needs”.
@ThFuturePerfect Did u see Melanie Reid’s column abt accessibility at Hilton in Times mag? What did u think?
@tourismforalluk Afraid I didn’t Philippa – can I access it online?
@ThFuturePerfect Possibly. She says that “accessible” hotel rooms doesnt mean they r accessible for wheelchairs – is that right?
@tourismforalluk Sounds ambiguous…
@ThFuturePerfect do hotels have to meet strict criteria before rooms are deemed accessible or is it up to them?
@tourismforalluk It depends if they have a rating, like NAS, or not: http://t.co/zNMqj09u. We always advise asking for info before booking.
@ThFuturePerfect Interesting. How widely adopted is the NAS scheme?
@tourismforalluk I wonder if @VisitEngland can tell us?
@tourismforalluk Altho, this very problem is why we came up with OpenBritain: http://www.openbritain.net/openbritain/accommodation/. All properties have to meet criteria.
@ThFuturePerfect Just checked on OB and hotel did not claim to have adapted facilities – is that surprising for an upmarket hotel?
@tourismforalluk Can you let me know which hotel so I can take a look please?
@ThFuturePerfect In article it says Northampton Hilton
@tourismforallukThe DisabledGo listing on OB says that there is adapted rooms available…
@ThFuturePerfectGuess that means that “adapted” does not always mean “accessible to you” – must be very frustrating!
@tourismforalluk Indeed, which is why we provide detailed info on the listings with measurements & details of facilities.
I did have one small gripe with Melanie Reid’s article and that was her declaration (hopefully tongue in cheek) that her hotel room had been “designed for someone with disabilities. For the one-legged, maybe..or the very elderly..or the fat ”. I am not sure these sorts of labels are useful in this context when what we should be aiming for is design for all.
And until we have reached the point where every hotel room is inclusively designed, good information about what is available is essential. For some useful links, go to